Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I Did It My Way

Today is the second day of our 22nd week, reading the Bible through together in a year.  Our scriptures today are:  1 Kings 2; 1 Chronicles 26-28; Romans 6.

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
(United States Declaration of Independence)

"I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul."

(Invictus.  W.E. Hensley)

"For what is a man, what has he got?

If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!"
(My Way.  Paul Anka)

These words, and many more, express our deep desire for self-determination and independence.  Nobody can tell us what to do.  We do it our way.  We're in charge.  We're here for the sole purpose of pursuing freedom and happiness.  

But what about godliness?  Wouldn't life, liberty, and the pursuit of godliness be better?  I'll take godliness over happiness any day.

Romans 6 talks about living a godly life.  This means saying "no" to yourself and "yes" to God.  You see, our society has duped itself into believing that life is about doing what you want.  In reality, the Christian life is about doing what God wants.  We think life is about making ourselves happy.  Actually, it's about pleasing the Father.

In our pursuit of independence, we forget how easy it is for our freedoms to result in slavery.  As we exercise our liberty, doing anything and everything we feel like doing, we find ourselves in bondage to sin.  But God desires not the kind of freedom in which we get to do whatever we desire.  God wants us to have the kind of freedom in which we are liberated from the captivity that sin once had in our lives.  In verses 12-14 (ESV) Paul writes: Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.  Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.  For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Being under grace means being forgiven for our sins.  But it also means that God gives us divine power to say "no" to sin.  Verses 15-18 (ESV) say:  What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!  Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?  But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,  and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 

Paul wonders what we really gain anyway, when we exercise our freedom to sin.  But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (vv. 21-23 ESV).

Adonijah clings to the horns of the altar
As an example of this, we read the story of Adonijah's claim to the throne in 1 Kings 1.  Even though David had already promised that Solomon would succeed him as king, Adonijah mad his bid for the throne.  He decided to do it his way.  He would be the master of his fate, the captain of his soul.  He gathered supporters around him and began to behave as if he were already king.  Yet when David set the record straight and anointed Solomon as his successor, Adonijah realized that all his attempts at self-determination were for naught.  He ran to the house of God and flung himself upon the altar, clinging to its horns until he could get assurance of pardon from the king.  And Solomon said, “If he will show himself a worthy man, not one of his hairs shall fall to the earth, but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.”  So King Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. And he came and paid homage to King Solomon, and Solomon said to him, “Go to your house (vv. 52-53 ESV).”

Adonijah knew that the wages of his sin brought death.  The free gift from his brother King Solomon was pardon and life.  Yet this pardon required him to set himself aside, abandon his sin, and live a life of willing submission to the king.  Jesus requires the same thing of us.  Salvation is free, but Jesus does have expectations of us.  He doesn't rescue us from sin just so we can fall into its bondage again.  He doesn't save us so that we can pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  Instead, it's eternal life, liberty from our slavery to sin, and godliness that He desires.  And that's better than total freedom any day!

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